2017 Toyota Highlander
Toyota’s largest crossover gets a mid-cycle refreshby Mark McNabb, on LISTEN 10:38
The crossover segment is on fire these days and Toyota is not letting its popular Highlander age out of the fight. Debuting at the 2016 New York Auto Show on March 23, the 2017 Highlander will boast several changes and upgrades for its mid-cycle update. The current, third-generation Highlander debuted for the 2013 model year and has done very well in the segment, posting record-setting sales gains in both 2014 and 2015 with 146,127 and 158,915 examples sold, respectively. Toyota is undoubtedly banking on these updates to further accelerate that trend.
Headlining the changes is a refreshed front grille, a new 3.5-liter V-6, an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, available LE and XLE trims now on the hybrid, the sporty new SE trim level, and a host of safety features now coming standard. The Highlander will continue to offer seating for up to eight, a choice of a four-cylinder, hybrid, or V-6 powertrain, FWD or AWD, and a bevy of optional equipment. For those not smitten with the minivan segment, the Highlander is Toyota’s premiere people-hauler.
Updated 11/03/2016: Toyota announced prices on the 2017 Highlander. Check the "Prices" section for the full details.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Toyota Highlander.
2017 Toyota Highlander
0-60 time:8.5 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:115 mph (Est.)
Layout:Front Engine; FWD, AWD
The refreshed Highlander carries most of its looks from the 2016 model save for the front grille. The new face is larger with a more aggressive appearance that helps it seem more SUV-ish. The upper grille section loses the large chrome trim around the Toyota emblem that tracked into the headlights. Now a pair of bars holds the emblem in place. Revised headlights are also on the menu, with more LED accents encased in a new design.
The new face is larger with a more aggressive appearance that helps it seem more SUV-ish
The lower grille section loses the body-color bumper section for a more Lexus-like look. Three grille slats with chrome trim attract the most attention, with smaller black slats down low. A chrome trim piece marks the bottom of the grille and start of the air dam. Off to the sides, the fog lights are repositioned in vertical vents, much like the RAV4. The grille on all LE, LE Plus, and XLE grades receive a silver painted finish, while Limited and Platinum grades will receive a painted chrome finish. The overall look is much stronger and bolder.
The side profile and rear end haven’t changed. The side still utilized black cladding along the wheel wells for an SUV-like look, while chrome trim encompasses the wide windows. The rear has a large spoiler above the tailgate. The large taillights with their aero fins return, helping the Highlander slip through the air. Black trim along the bottom of the bumper houses red reflectors and can accommodate the optional two-inch trailer hitch receiver.
Three new exterior colors options are available, including Celestial Silver Metallic, Toasted Walnut Pearl, and, exclusively on the new SE, Salsa Red Pearl. Speaking of the SE trim, it comes with trim-exclusive, 19-inch alloy wheels, a dark paint treatment to the front grille and roof rails, and smoked headlight lenses.
Like the exterior, not much is changing for the interior design wise, but Toyota does have some upgraded materials readied for the 2017 model year. A new brown leather color is available on the Limited Platinum trim, appealing to current trends. On the sporty SE trim, black leather seats come accented with silver inserts and stitching, a black-colored dash shelf, and matching dash and door inserts. Thankfully Toyota has added four USB ports throughout the Highlander, giving passengers a total of five charging ports.
The Highlander comes standard with seating for eight thanks to a second row bench seat.
The Highlander comes standard with seating for eight thanks to a second row bench seat. On Limited and Limited Platinum trims, however, customers can opt for second-row captains chairs. These not only ease the entry into the third row, but also make second row passengers feel more grown up thanks to a variety of seat adjustments.
The Highlander’s 2017 refresh is more than skin deep. The crossover now has Toyota’s new 3.5-liter V-6. The engine is more compact than the outgoing model and now features direct injection for both better fuel economy and more power. The V-6 makes a respectable 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. That’s up from the 2016 Highlander’s 280 horses and 248 pound-feet. Fuel economy is also improved, with the EPA estimated the AWD Highlander will achieve 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. That’s up from 18/24 in the 2016 model.
The V-6 makes a respectable 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque.
What’s more, the new engine also comes with a new transmission. Gone is the six-speed auto in favor of the new Direct Shift eight-speed automatic. Toyota says the new gearbox “delivers a more direct driving feel by expanding the lock up range.”
Furthering the fuel economy front is the Stop and Start Engine System. Coming standard on every trim above the base LE, the S&S system shuts off the engine when stopped in traffic or at a red light. Releasing the brake instantly restarts the engine. Toyota says the system will make for a quieter cabin when at a stop. (Obviously)
The Highlander Hybrid comes standard with the new 3.5-liter V-6 and a high-torque electric motor-generator. Combined together, the gasoline/electric hybrid system produces 306 horsepower. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 30 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined. The carry-over Continuously Variable Transmission is used rather than the eight-speed automatic.
All Highlander Hybrid models come standard with Toyota’s Electronic On-Demand AWD system. It uses an electric motor to drive the rear wheels rather than a conventional transfer case, driveshaft, and differential.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission carry over as the base powertrain. Only LE trim grades with FWD will receive this engine option.
Toyota is upping its safety game with the 2017 Highlander. All models will come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense system. It’s a new multi-feature safety package with automated pre-collision braking, Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency braking, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, Pedestrian Pre-Collision System, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
Debuting for the first time on a Toyota vehicle, the automaker’s new Perimeter Scan provides a live rotating, 360-degree view around the vehicle using the Highlander’s exterior camera system. The system, which also includes the Bird’s Eye view Camera system, is available on the range-topping Limited Platinum trim. It uses four camera mounted on the outside that project a panoramic view of the vehicle’s surroundings on the infotainment screen.
Of course, the Highlander’s frame and safety cage help protect passengers from harm, while three-point seatbelts and a slew of airbags pad any impacts.
Toyota has increased pricing for the 2017 Highlander, though not by much. In fact, the base LE grade only jumps by $140. The prices do incrementally increase the higher into the grade levels, with the highest increase being for the range-topping Limited Platinum V-6 at $1,270. LE grades see a jump of $665, while the Limited grade has a $765 increase.
Conversely, the Highlander Hybrid modes are decreasing in price. The Limited Hybrid AWD is a full $3,110 less expensive than it was in 2016. The range-topping Limited Platinum AWD V-6 is also $2,605 less expensive for the 2017 model year. We’ve got the full pricing chart for your perusal.
Highlander Gas models
|MODEL#||GRADE||2016 MSRP||2017 MSRP||MSRP CHANGE ($)||MSRP CHANGE (%)|
|6942||LE 2WD 4-cyl.||$30,490||$30,630||$140||0.5%|
|6946||LE 2WD 4-cyl.||$32,015||$32,680||$665||2.1%|
|6947||LE Plus 2WD V6||$34,395||$35,060||$665||1.9%|
|6951||XLE 2WD V6||$37,315||$38,520||$1,205||3.2%|
|6950||SE 2WD V6||N/A||$39,690||N/A||N/A|
|6954||Limited 2WD V6||$40,915||$41,680||$765||1.9%|
|6955||Limited Platinum 2WD V6||$43,530||$44,800||$1,270||2.9%|
|6948||LE AWD V6||$33,475||$34,140||$665||2.0%|
|6949||LE Plus AWD V6||$35,855||$36,520||$665||1.9%|
|6953||XLE AWD V6||$38,775||$39,980||$1,205||3.1%|
|6952||SE AWD V6||N/A||$41,150||N/A||N/A|
|6956||Limited AWD V6||$42,375||$43,140||$765||1.8%|
|6957||Limited Platinum AWD V6||$44,990||$46,260||$1,270||2.8%|
Highlander Hybrid models
|MODEL#||GRADE||2016 MSRP||2017 MSRP||MSRP CHANGE ($)||MSRP CHANGE (%)|
|6964||LE Hybrid AWD V6||N/A||$36,270||N/A||N/A|
|6965||XLE Hybrid AWD V6||N/A||$41,330||N/A||N/A|
|6966||Limited Hybrid AWD V6||$47,870||$44,760||-$3,110||-6.5%|
|6967||Limited Platinum Hybrid AWD V6||$50,485||$47,880||-$2,605||-5.2%|
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The 2017 Toyota Highlander and its refreshed appearance, new powertrain, and slightly upgraded interior seem like great advancements for the crossover’s mid-cycle refresh. The aggressive new looks and more powerful engine should make the anti-mini-van types more attracted to it, even if it’s marketed to the soccer mom types. The improvements should also further Toyota’s dominance in the large crossover segment. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2017 Highlander break into the 160,000-unit sales bracket thanks to these upgrades.